Breaking the fast at Bistro 31

On Tuesday, I was bestowed an invite to sample breakfast at hot new Highland Park Village eatery Bistro 31. It’s rare that lunch and dinner eateries these days serve weekday breakfast — weekend brunch tends to be the norm. But Bistro 31 serves the morning meal Monday through Friday as well. And what a serene, lovely place to savor one’s first meal!

The resto’s interior design was clean but not too spare — nice comfy touches such as vibrant wall art, cushy chairs and bright white tableware (above) made the space feel elegantly homey. Adding to the haute, fashionable feel of the naturally lit spot was the presence of model extraordinaire Jan Strimple at the next table!

To start, my guest ordered a French press coffee whilst I opted for an eye-opening mimosa starring fresh-squeezed OJ — the balance of fruit juice to champagne was right-on, causing my flute to be empty too quickly!

I suggested we start with the pain au chocolat (above) — fancy-talk for chocolate-studded croissants. The pastries were tremendously fresh and flaky, and did I mention warm?! If I’d lain down for a nap right after eating it, I would’ve had a dream of a day. But I dared to tip the decadence scale, adding butter AND blueberry preserves to mine. Staggeringly good. How happy was I?

My friend selected the Basque omelet for his main. A blend of Spanish chorizo, sun-dried tomatoes and onions were folded into a fluffy envelope of eggs. My friend seemed disappointed a bit in the chorizo dice, perhaps preferring or just being really accustomed to Mexican-style ground chorizo, but I loved the sausage bits. They brightened an otherwise typical omelet, but unfortch, left the customary stamp of chorizo, no matter its region of origin: a meaty oil slick.

Thanks to its inclusion of serrano ham, the house Benedict called my name. Instead of being built on a foundation of English muffins, the poached eggs sat on toasted focaccia, which was thicker, denser and much more substantial

than English muffins — a win to me. The better to sop up all the drippy yolk that spilled over the plate. Mmmm. The serrano ham added a salty intensity you don’t get with Canadian bacon; the fingerling potatoes were tender roasted nuggets of yum, delicately flavored so as not to overwhelm the mains. Most notable with this dish was that it wasn’t overwhelmed by Hollandaise sauce. Too often, it’s a thick, gloppy, super-yellow gravy that’s just a barrier to the eggs. Bistro 31′s was a light affair, still sumptuous in flavor but unassuming, texture-wise, so as not to sabotage the runny yolk.

At this point, I’d run out of mimosa and so switched to plain OJ — I feared it’d be as pulpy as the mimo (which I actually liked in that drink), but, amazingly, it was pulp-free and perfect.

I didn’t want the meal to be totally egg-centric, so I ordered the lemon-ricotta pancakes with a side of sausage to share with my friend. Astoundingly simple, the tart, light flapjacks came with blueberry preserves, creme fraiche (“Avoid!!” said my waistline. Shut up, waistline.) and syrup. The combo melded in the mouth to become a sweet tooth’s dream; the sausage added a needed (for me) savoriness to the dish — I’d order the two again. Wish I could’ve stuffed more of it into my face, but I was so full!

“Dessert?” our server asked. I felt as if just reading the dessert menu would make me fuller, let alone ordering part of it! I’ll save that sure-to-be-heady experience for a future dinner visit.

Bistro 31′s breakfast is just building buzz — the resto was medium-busy on my visit — so you best stop in for an early-morning bite before word gets out and the line gets long! The most important meal of the day runs from 8 to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday.